Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Foodie Friends

The best source of good recipes are your foodie friends (and Tasty Kitchen). Gola has passed along a few of my favorite holiday standbys. The haystack recipe I posted earlier and the ham and cheese cheeseball were both given to my by Gola.

I met Gola my first year in Alberta. We have been great friends since. We have spent Christmas Eve together every year. This year, Gola and Al hosted and we ate and ate and ate. And played Wii. I brought her cheeseball and Newfie hors d'oeuvres. Newfie Hors d'Oeuvres are not my cup of tea. A slice of Vienna sausage, a chunk of cheddar cheese and a piece of sweet mix pickle. Blech! But Lee and Nik had no problem polishing them off.

So if you are looking for an appetizer for an upcoming New Year's get together, give the cheeseball a try.

Gola's Ham and Cheese Cheeseball

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened

1 cup sharp cheddar, grated

3/4 cup Miracle Whip

2 Tbs sweet pickle relish

1 can Flakes of Ham

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with stand or hand mixer until combined. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap and add the mixture, pressing it down. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

When ready to serve, invert bowl on plate or serving platter and remove plastic wrap. Use finely grated cheddar to coat the outside. Serve with Ritz crackers.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays!!!

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays! We spent the morning at home, with the furbabies, enjoying breakfast and opening our gifts. We always have help with opening gifts.

Daisy loves the empty boxes!

We went to Tina and Ian's for turkey dinner. It was very tasty!! It was frosty fog out yesterday, and Lee snapped this picture of our weeping birch tree.

As much as I hate and despise every aspect of the winter season, I must say that when the trees get frosty like that, it is a beautiful sight. Today, it is sunny so I took a couple extra pictures of the same tree.

Very pretty out there today.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time Flies!

Wow! It has been a while since I have posted!! We haven't been up to much. Lee is working in Fort McMurray on turnaround. I have been working, and working on a few homemade gifts. I'd like to tell you all about them, but I haven't given them yet, so mum's the word!
This weekend, I have been making Christmas treats. I made haystacks, which is a recipe I got a few years ago from a friend. They quickly turned into a Christmas staple. Until last year. Mackintosh toffee bars were no where to be found!! According to there website, there was a fire at the factory. But they can make individually wrapped toffee pieces. I think this is some kind of conspiracy!

To start, get a bag of large marshmallows and cut them in half width wise with clean scissors. Dump some Rice Krispies in a bowl. Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan. Add 35-40 unwrapped Mackintosh toffee pieces and two tablespoons of butter. I used 40 unwrapped pieces, but found it a bit thick and next time I will go with 35. Heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. I leave my burner on low as you will need to reheat the toffee if it starts to harden up.
Here's my assembly line. Note my beautiful china pattern. I believe it's called Royal Chinet.

It helps to have a helper. One person dipping, one person coating. But I was all one my own this weekend. I like to use my nut picks that came with my nutcracker for the dipping because you can tap them on the side of the saucepan to remove excess toffee. But you could use a toothpick or skewer.
Dip the marshmallow half into the melted toffee, tapping to remove excess.

Drop into the cereal and cover. I use a spoon cause it's faster. And when you are doing this alone, faster is better.

Drop on parchment to firm up. Repeat another 50 or 60 times. Eventually, you get to a point where there is toffee left, but it is too difficult to dip the marshmallows. This is where you reward yourself for all your hard work.

I don't think I need to explain any further.
I also tried to make truffles. But I am still scarred from that experience so I don't want to discuss it right now. When I have healed, we'll chat.
But I have had some requests to see my tree. Before I show you, I must remind you we put the tree up on Lee's last set of days off, around the 3rd or so. I generally don't put it up that early, but it was the 3rd or the 23rd, and I wasn't willing to do that deed on the 23rd. So up it went. And I have cats.
So just look at the top two thirds and we're good.

Look what they do when I am not looking!!

I have given up on fixing it. That is simply a waste of my time.

I hope your tree is fairing better than mine!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope everyone is enjoying their turkey dinner. I am heading out to Tina and Ian's for turkey dinner. Tina and Ian hauled 125 bales of hay yesterday, and today Lee and Ian are back out for another 125 bales today. So I am going to up with them later.

Lee was loading the bales on to the conveyor and Tina and Ian were packing them in the barn.

What was I doing you ask? I was occupational health and safety supervisor. And Master Documenter of Events.

This is Riley, Tina and Ian's chocolate lab. I captured this rare moment of him not barking.

Yesterday, before we headed out to help with the hay, I was making Pumpkin Date Squares. I got it all put together and baked them up at Tina's for dessert last night. It is quite a tasty fall recipe and they aren't overly sweet. They can be served warm or cold, and with or without a dollop of whipped cream.

Pumpkin Date Squares


  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice


  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted

In a saucepan, bring filling ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix crumble ingredients except for the butter. Mix until combined and with a fork, incorporate the melted butter until crumbly.

Pat half of the crumble mix into a lightly greased 8x8 pan. Spread filling over top and sprinkle with remaining crumble mix.

Bake in the center of 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan on rack.


Monday, October 5, 2009

A Celebratory Drink

Wow, it has been almost a month since I last posted. I have to give a big congratulations to Tammy and Jeff on the birth of baby Rebecca Lynn on September 26th. I don't have any pictures but will be sure to share when I do! She is such a little doll!

So in honor of the birth of little precious, I am having a celebratory drink. (Roll with me here) Actually, I made a new slush recipe on Saturday night and didn't have any Sprite till today. It is darn good slush! Don't have a pic of that either as it is dark and pics with flash look horrid. I got the recipe from jenng on Tasty Kitchen.

jenng's Slush

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 9 cups water
  • 2 bags raspberry tea
  • 1 can frozen orange juice
  • 1 can frozen pink lemonade
  • 1 can frozen limeade
  • 1 26oz (750mL) black cherry vodka

In a large pot, combine 7 cups of water and sugar. Boil for approximately 1 minute and set aside.

In a tea kettle, boil remaining 2 cups of water and pour over tea bags. Steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags and pour into the pot.

Stir in all of the concentrates till combined. Pour in vodka and allow mixture to come to room temperature.

Pour into a large container and put it in the freezer. It won’t freeze completely due to the alcohol, but it should become slushy—thus becoming SLUSH.

Scoop into glasses till 1/2 to 3/4 full (depending on your taste) and top with soda.
Kick back, close your eyes, drink and enjoy !!!

I mixed mine in two 4L ice cream containers as it wouldn't all fit in one. Enjoy! I am!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Canning Like Crazy! The End

I have been trying out a lot of recipes from Tasty Kitchen lately. Tasty Kitchen is an offshoot of Pioneer Woman, also created by Ree. It is a place where you can sign up and share recipes. I think I currently have 153 recipes in my box. That's a lot of testing to do! One of the more interesting ones I have tried is Corn Cob Jelly. I have tried it and it is pretty good.
Warning: Removing corn from 12 cobs is messy.

Corn Cob Jelly (posted by kristenofchaos on Tasty Kitchen)

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 box pectin crystals (I used Certo)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 12 cobs of corn, raw and corn removed

Using 12 corn cobs from which sweet corn has been cut (raw) add 4 cups of water to a large pot.

Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes then strain through a cloth for 3 cups of liquid. (I used cheesecloth. You can buy jelly bags.)

Add more water if needed to make the total. (I had to add water, so I think next time, I would add more from the get go)

In a fruit pan, add 1 box of pectin and bring to a rolling boil.Add 4 cups of sugar (all at once) and bring to a boil once again. (I removed the cobs from the pot and added it back and used the same pot. I skimmed the foam off too.)

Food coloring may be added at this time. (I added 3-4 drops of yellow colouring)

Strain and put into jars and seal. (I didn't strain it a second time.)

Quite tasty. Doesn't taste like corn. Has a light, delicate honey like flavor.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Canning Like Crazy! Part III

It's been a busy week! Lee and I ventured to CrossIron Mills yesterday. It is the new super mall just north of Calgary. To say it was busy would be an understatement. It is an OK mall I guess. It has Bass Pro Shop so you can drop your hubby there and do your thing. Bass Pro Shop has a food section though that I recommend checking out. I bought some hot teriyaki sauce there and it is quite good. I also got some cornbread mix and spicy fish breading which I haven't yet tried.
In addition to dill pickles I also made bread and butter pickles. I reviewed many recipes for bread and butter, but decided to go with one I found on the Taste of Home website, simply because it seemed easiest. Being a beginner at this, easy recipes was high on the priority list.
Bread and Butter Pickles (from Karen Owen on Taste of Home website)
  • 4 lbs pickling cucumbers, sliced
  • 8 small onions, sliced (I used 3 medium onions, got them fresh from the Mennonites)
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 2 tbs mustard seed
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

In a large container, combine the cucumbers, onions and salt. Cover with crushed ice and mix well. Let stand for 3 hours. drain; rinse and drain again. (My ice maker only makes ice cubes, and I couldn't be bothered to run it in the blender. Worked OK I think)

In a Dutch oven, combine the sugar, vinegar and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add cucumber mixture; return to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Word to the wise, wear old clothes, use an old ladle. This stuff will stain.

Yield: 7 pints.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Canning like Crazy! Part Deux

My first venture into the canning world (other than freezer jam) were these.

Dill Beans

I can't try them till September 22nd, but they sure look good. The beans, like the dill pickles are fresh packed. Pack the jars with fresh veggies and seasonings, pour pickling liquid over top, seal and process. Simple. Other recipes may require brining, fermenting, or a complete cooking of the veggies.

I got the recipe from Tasty Kitchen which was posted by missy. I made two pints with the crushed chilis and two without. Not every one likes spicy like we do.

Dill Beans (missy's recipe from Tasty Kitchen)

  • 2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 pieces dried Thai chili (I didn't use because I forgot to stop at the asian grocery)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pint white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt

Into 4 sterile pint jars, put 1/2 t red pepper flakes, 1 Thai chili, 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig of dill. Pack beans tightly into pint jars.

In saucepan, bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Pour into jars covering beans and leaving 1/4 inch head space. Seal immediately with sterile lids and process for 10 minutes in a boiling bath. Adjust process time to your altitude if needed. Ready to eat in one month.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Canning like Crazy! Part One

The past couple weekends I have been making pickles and jelly. I have never made pickles and only made jelly once before. The previous jelly experience was not a pleasant one. So over the next few days, I will chronicle my bounty.
I don't have my own garden so I bought most of my produce and dill from the Hutterites and Mennonites. The farmers market is always a busy spot on Thursdays. I had to outfit myself with a few new tools. I needed a jar lifter, so I just bought a kit that included a magnet for lids, a headspace/air bubble tool, jar lifter, and wide mouth funnel.
These are the dill pickles I made. I borrowed a few canning and preserving books from the library and found Speedy Dill Pickles in the Canning & Preserving for Dummies book.

Speedy Dill Pickles adapted from Canning and Preserving for Dummies

  • 4 pounds pickling cucumbers
  • 6 tbs kosher or pickling salt
  • 3 cups picking vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbs pickling spices
  • 18 black peppercorns
  • 3 tbs dill seed
  • fresh dill sprigs (optional)

Wash cucumbers. Slice in halves or quarters.

Prepare canning jars and lids. I put my clean jars in the sink and fill with boiling water until ready to use. I put the lids (not the rings) in a small saucepan till ready to use. When I am almost ready for the lids, I pour boiling water over them.

Combine salt, water, and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt. Keep liquid hot.

Snuggly pack the cucumbers in the prepared jars. I use my silicone oven mitt I bought forever ago and never used for this. I dumped the boiling water out of my jars and stuffed them, holding the jar with my silicone oven mitted hand. Glad I kept that, cause Lee wanted to get rid of it.

If using quart (1L) jars, to each jar, add 1 tsp pickling spice, 6 peppercorns, 1 tbs of dill seed. Optional: 2 peeled, halved cloves of garlic

If using pint (500mL) jars, to each jar, add 1/2 tsp pickling spice, 3 peppercorns, 1 1/2 tsp dill seed. Optional: 1 peeled, halved clove of garlic

If you are adding fresh dill, add a sprig or two to each jar between the inside edge of the jar and the cucumbers.

Ladle the hot liquid into your filled jars, leaving a headspace of 1/2 inch in quart jars and 1/4 inch in pint jars. Completely submerge cucumbers in the liquid. If they protrude, adjust till you have proper headspace. Release any air bubbles. That wide mouth funnel was a godsend. The headspace tool was great too because my 1/4 inch and a real 1/4 inch are two different things.

Wipe the jar rims clean. Seal with the lid and add the band till finger tight. Finger tight isn't very tight. Just when you start to meet resistance, stop. Magnet tool, which is basically a magnet on a stick is another great tool. Makes sealing go so much faster.

Process your sealed jars in a water bath. Jars should be covered in 2-3 inches of water. 15 minutes for quart jars, 10 minutes for pint jars. Start the timer when the pot comes to a rolling boil after adding the jars. Adjust your process time based on altitude. I have to add an additional 5 minutes to my time. You can find this by googling it.

When the process time is up, remove the jars and place them on a clean towel or cooling rack. Thank you jar lifter! Lids will seal (pop) as they cool. If any don't seal, refrigerate and use within 2 months.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

East Coast Delicacy

Donairs are a variation of the Turkish doner kebab. They are said to have originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 1970's. King Of Donair claims to be the originator. Wherever it originated from, I am thankful. The spiced meat is formed into large loaves and put on a spit. It turns as it cooks and is shaved off to serve. They are usually so large, so stuffed full of meat, they are a two handed eating expedition.
They are popular all over Eastern Canada, and you can find them in many other parts too. They can be served in a rolled pita, on flat pita, in a sub or burger or on a pizza. In the east, the generally accepted toppings are diced fresh tomatoes and onions. In the west, they try to turn it into a salad. Personally, I am just a meat and sauce kind of girl. The sauce is sweet and tangy white sauce, also good for dipping those garlic fingers in. I lived on Recardo's donairs and garlic fingers in high school. I stopped in there on my trip home and indulged till I thought I would explode. Same folks still work there that worked there in my high school years.
When I first moved to small town Alberta, I asked where I might be able to get a donair and garlic fingers (another popular item in East Coast pizza joints). The cowboys and girls looked at me like I had bull horns growing from my head. Oh, they didn't know what they were missing!
You can find good ones in the city, not so much otherwise. The best donair I have ever had in Alberta is in Red Deer at Cleopatra's. They grill them on a panini press for crisp the pita. So good!
I usually make my own at home. I got this recipe from my Uncle Mark. I don't have a spit, so I form it into a loaf and bake.

I make my own sweet sauce too. Most recipes I have seen call for evaporated milk. I find this is too runny, regardless of how long I beat it for. I use a sweetened condensed milk in mine. Thank goodness for the stand mixer because it has to be mixed for quite some time.

When the loaf is cooked, I slice into thin slices. I run my pita bread quickly under the tap to moisten, and put in hot frying pan. Brown on both sides and top with some sweet sauce. Add the meat and drizzle more sweet sauce. Top with veggies if you like and enjoy.

Still can't get the large pita in small town Alberta, so I just eat mine flat like a pizza.


Donair Meat

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)

Mix thoroughly in large mixing bowl. I knead mine for at least 5 minutes. Form into a flattened loaf and place on cooling rack onto a foil lined baking sheet. This will allow the grease to run off. Bake for 45 minutes on 350 degrees or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. It should be cooked through.

For leftover meat, I fry them in the frying pan. I like the meat crispy.

Donair Sauce

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can sugar
  • 1/2 can vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Empty can of milk into a mixing or stand mixer bowl. Fill milk can with sugar and add to bowl. Fill milk can half full of vinegar and add to bowl. Add garlic powder. Mix for at least 10 minutes. If it is not mixed enough, sauce will be gritty from the sugar. Must be refrigerated at least overnight before serving. It will thicken after refrigerating.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vicki's - The Best Place On Earth

When Lee realized he couldn't come to Nova Scotia with me, he was upset he wasn't going to Vicki's.
Vicki's is a restaurant and seafood market. Wildly popular with her hearty portions, reasonable prices, and tasty homemade desserts. The seafood here is impeccably fresh. No stinky stuff here.
I ate at Vicki's more times in two weeks than I care to share. In my haste to devour the melt in your mouth clams (my usual), I forgot to take lots of pictures. Here are the few I do have.

Vicki's scallops are the only deep fried scallops I have ever liked. Most places have oddly thick batter, so pan fried is my favorite way to go. Vicki uses a light coating and they are most delicious.

Jess' three piece fish. As most places in Nova Scotia, Vicki uses haddock for her fish and chips. Nice light batter, crazy fresh, superbly flaky.

My half eaten clams and chips. I love love love fried clams. Can't get them just anywhere. These just melt in your mouth. No rocks in these clams. I am making myself hungry here.

So the moral of the story, if you ever get to Nova Scotia, get yourself to Vicki's. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Farewell to Nova Scotia

"Farewell to Nova Scotia, your sea-bound coast,
Let your mountains dark and dreary be.
For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed,
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?"

I absolutly love traditional Nova Scotia/East Coast music. A fitting song for the homesick!
I had such a great time on my trip home. I thought I would post some more of the pictures I took.
The wharf in the fog at low tide.
The wharf on a sunny day minus most of the scallop fleet, also at near low tide.
My parents dog, Keegan. He is such a mild mannered dog. Too bad Lee is allergic, I might have kidnapped him.
This was out in front of the Port Pub in Port Williams. There are walking trails all along here.
You can't tell from this picture, but the captain is sitting on a dining room chair.
My grandmother cooking some tasty scallops!
Big dinner the night before I left. Burgers, salads, scallops, fresh corn, all so yummy!
The same scallops my Nanny cooked, and the onions and mushrooms I cooked.

The Annapolis Valley and the Bay of Fundy from 20,000 feet.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Sun Has Set....

....on this vacation.

Doing laundry and packing. So much fun.

It has been a great holiday. Although they are never long enough.

See you all next time!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Day in the Big City

Jess and I spent the day in Halifax yesterday shopping, looking around, playing tourists.

This the the Halifax Harbour from the MacKay Bridge.

This is Lower Water Street down by the waterfront.

Buskers Festival starts today so there were some set up yesterday. I love bagpipes, and paired with the drummers, it was awesome.

This is the Alexander Keith's Brewery. Alexander Keith is buried in a downtown cemetery and his grave site is often littered with Keith's beer cans and bottles from those who are there to share a beer with the man himself.

This is Georges Island which sits in the mouth of the harbour. That is the yacht I was planning to buy when I won the 6/49 last night. But I didn't win.

These are Beaver Tails. They are a slab of fried dough and are available in a variety of toppings. Jess had Skor and I had Chocolate Hazelnut. They are yummy!

Nova Scotia Crystal is on the waterfront also. It is the only mouth blown crystal being made in Canada. Stop by at the right time and you can watch them work.

We went to Bubbles Mansion for dinner and a drink. We first went to Bubbles in 2007 when we were in Nova Scotia for our wedding. We enjoyed it so much, I made a point of going back on this visit.

Big mistake.

The menu is vastly different from our last visit. And not for the better, I am sad to say. But if you are a TPB fan, do stop by. They have the shed there!

Jess and her drink. I think it was called the Hydroponic.

The bar.

Me and my drink, the Samsqantch.

Our drinks and the condiment cart.

We also went on the Harbour Hopper Tour. It is an amphibious vehicle from the Vietnam War that has been transformed into a tour bus.
These shots are from Citadel Hill.
We're goin' in!! Oh my, I got splashed! I almost puked. If you knew what was in the Halifax Harbour, you'd puke too.

Got some great pictures of the waterfront, the Historic Properties, and the Naval Shipyard from the Harbour Hopper.
All in all it was a great day with only a little sunburn.
Don't be like us and forget your sunscreen!